Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Cycle Tribes: Pashley Princesses

Helmet? Check! Hat hair? Never!
This particular species of cyclist is a rare sight in autumn. They are evident in our temperate climes in swarms during the balmy summer months, but at the slightest hint of inclement weather they migrate south, deep underground. This is mainly because Pashley Princesses are more about style than practicality. The bikes, for starters, are ever so attractive but also very heavy, gigantic and quite slow. Their rustic wicker baskets hold all manner of goodies, mainly designer handbags, a Sunday paper, leeks, flowers and a baguette from the local organic farmers market. They make such a pretty picture on a clear day, but are fairly useless in a downpour.
PPs also wear clothing that is far from cycle-specific. Flowy skirts that lift tantalising in the breeze and distract the taxi drivers and long wavy hair are the order of the day. Heels are no reason not to ride- and for this we salute you, PPs. These broads are never less than lady-like, using the opportunity of a red light to reapply their lipstick, not to get ahead of the traffic.
In the late spring and early, sunny autumn before the tribe retreats, a light ethnic scarf might be added. It always looks very chic, but I would caution against this. I once ventured out in an ensemble quite close the PP style, with a very, very long scarf. I was half way to my destination when my head was yanked down and headbutted my cross bar. The scarf had got caught in the cogs and cheerfully wound itself around until it nearly garroted me. It must have looked very, very funny. This is one of the reasons that, though I aspire, I will never be a proper PP. Don't have that innate...what do you call it? Grace. 

Image by Dream Dottie


  1. Brilliant!! Such an accurate picture of the PPs. Love it! They are going into hibernation now...

  2. Still quite a few out and about this week enjoy the autumn sunshine.

    Funnily enough I've just written a new blog post about living with a Pashley Roadster, over at http://www.questioneering.com/ (hope you don't mind the bit of relevant linkage).

  3. @Mike- course not. Interesting you found them so cumbersome, you'd think that they would be able to make them a bit more streamlined and keep the look....

  4. Odd choice of a photo, though: that's Dottie from LGRAB, unless my eyes are worse than I thought, and she's famous for bike-commuting year-round in the tough climate of Chicago. I'm pretty sure she uses her Pashley at least part of the winter.

  5. @Anne- oh thanks, interesting. Was on creative commons on Flickr when I searched Pashley and I just liked it. Clearly working with VERY broadbrushstrokes here, I'm very aware that there are million exceptions to the sterotype. Hope Dottie wouldn't be offended, maybe I should find a less hardy rider for illustration.....

  6. I'm sure Dottie *would* be offended at the idea that she doesn't ride year-round (she had awesome photos of the couple of feet of snow she cycled through last winter) but I'm sure she'd find your post funny, too.

    Of course, taking the tongue out of the cheek for a moment, people on bikes which allow them to wear everyday and ordinary clothes are no bad thing; my bike has hub gears,, chain guard and is sit-up-and-beg which allows me to ride without bothering with all the 'cycle clothing' stuff (who needs it when you are just pottering to work) and to ride year round too. As for being heavy, well yes they're no carbon road racer but I find I'm often quickest off at the traffic lights or if I'm passed by a Chris Boardman wannabe in London I know I'm going to catch up with them at the next lights anyway. So hoorah for the everyday and ordinary simplicity of the PPS! :o)

  7. Amen! I am probably closer to this tribe than any other, as determined that practicality and style can co-exist! I think it is the thought of all the specialist gear that puts people off.
    Maybe I need to put my "warning-may contain sterotypes" warning on all these tribe posts, and I definitely need another picture! Shame as she is so fetching....

  8. Couldn't agree more about the gear. Don't change the picture, as you say she looks so elegant. Her blog is fantastic and she always has *amazing* photos.

    A bit of ribbing and stereotypes never did anyone any harm ;-)